Friday, September 28, 2012

Lord of the Flies tells the truth about us

Lord of the FliesLord of the Flies by William Golding
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I didn't like Lord of the Flies, and I liked it. I didn't like it because it was so dark, and I liked it because it tells the truth.

Several boys are stranded on a deserted island when their plane goes down. No adults survive. The boys organize themselves to maintain life until they're rescued and to maintain a signal fire in order to be rescued. At first the boys are governed by the strictures and relative morality of adult civilization, but as time progresses many of them slowly cast aside their inhibitions with the absence of a credible accountability.

As examples, Jack hesitates when he first has the chance to kill a wild pig, and the pig escapes. As time progresses he feels himself swallowed up by a compulsion to kill, though he twitches when he mentions cutting the throat of his first pig kill. Later he revels in the blood on his hands after a pig kill and presides over the death of something else.

Roger early on tosses rocks at one of the younger boys, but never hits the boy. He obviously means to torment, but actually hitting the boy is "taboo." "Round the squatting child was the protection of parents and school and policemen and law" (ch. 4). But later, when Roger's meanness has conquered his social conditioning, he is the one who leverages with deadly aim a boulder against another weaker boy.

The boys who join Jack in the end are simply called "savages."

The book tells the truth about the sinful nature. Men and women, left to themselves, are savages. We are by nature sinful and wicked, selfish and hateful, violent. Lord of the Flies does a great job of showing that--demonstrating both the reality and the terror of our dark inclinations.

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